Migrant Landbird Study Group

Promoting collaborative research for migratory landbirds across flyways

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British Trust for Ornithology (BTO)

Study species: All migrants

Research topic: Full annual cycle

Institution location: British Trust for Ornithology

Project organiser:

Status: Active

The British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) is based in Thetford, United Kingdom and has a long history of migration research.

The Ringing Scheme has gathered important information on bird movements for over 100 years and the recent development of the BirdTrack programme has further enhanced our ability to gather broad-scale data on migration patterns and phenology. Long-term surveys such as the Breeding Bird Survey carried out by BTO and partners have highlighted recent rapid declines in migrants, particularly those wintering in the humid zone of West Africa. Long-term demographic monitoring by volunteer ringers and nest-recorders as part of the Constant Effort Sites Scheme and the Nest Record Scheme serve to monitor annual survival and productivity of many of the most common migratory species. More recently, BTO has begun to use tracking technologies such as geolocators, satellite tags, and GPS tags to study migration in a range of species, including cuckoos, nightingales, swifts, and nightjars.


  1. Ockendon, N., Johnston, A. & Baillie, S.R. 2014. Rainfall on wintering grounds affects population change in many species of Afro-Palaearctic migrants. Journal of Ornithology.

  2. Morrison, C.A, Robinson, R.A., Clark, J.A., Risely, K. & Gill, J.A 2013. Recent population declines in Afro-Palaearctic migratory birds: the influence of breeding and non-breeding seasons. Diversity & Distributions 19 (8): 1051–1058.

  3. Morrison, C.A., Robinson, R.A., Clark, J.A., Marca, A.D., Newton, J & Gill, J.A. 2013. Using stable isotopes to link breeding population trends to winter ecology in Willow Warblers Phylloscopus trochilus. Bird Study 60 (2): 211–220.

  4. Ockendon, N., Leech, D. & Pearce-Higgins, J.W. 2013. Climatic effects on breeding grounds are more important drivers of breeding phenology in migrant birds than carry-over effects from wintering grounds. Biology Letters 9 (6): 0669.

  5. Bayly, N.J., Atkinson, P.W. & Rumsey, S.J.R. 2012. Fuelling for the Sahara crossing: variation in site use and the onset and rate of spring mass gain by 38 Palearctic migrants in the western Sahel. Journal of Ornithology 153 (3): 931–945.

  6. Ockendon, N.O., Hewson, C.M., Johnston, A. & Atkinson, P.W. 2012. Declines in British-breeding populations of Afro-Palearctic migrant birds are linked to bioclimatic wintering zone, possibly via constraints in arrival time advancement. Bird Study 59 (2): 111–125.

  7. Morrison, C.A., Robinson, R.A., Clark, J.A. & Gill, J.A. 2010. Spatial and temporal variation in population trends in a long-distance migratory bird. Diversity & Distributions 16: 620–627.